Ralphy Holmes didn't earn the nickname "sensational" by playing like an ordinary player.
Holmes dazzled the Titan home crowd with a terrific all-around performance, scoring 20 points and grabbing eight rebounds to lead the Titans to a 68-59 victory over Big West opponent UC Santa Barbara Saturday night.
The game, which aired on Fox Sports West, was the first televised game for the Titans this season.
The win brings Fullerton's conference record to 5-4 and 10-7 overall. It was the Titans first win at home against UCSB in eight seasons.
Holmes scored in a variety of spectacular ways, whether it was driving baseline, spinning 360 degrees for a lay-up, or hanging over defenders for turn-around jumpers in the paint.
Holmes electrified the crowd, which chanted his name.
"He really played a great game for us and gave us a lift with his aggressiveness and attacking the defenses," shooting guard Jermaine Harper said.
Holmes shot 7-of-13 from the field but more importantly sparked the Titans with his defensive energy.
Alex Harris led Santa Barbara scorers with 16 points but was only held to four second half points because of Holmes's defensive pressure. Cameron Goettsche added 12 points along with seven rebounds and three blocks for UCSB.
The Gauchos lost their ninth consecutive road game and fell to 4-6 in the conference and 7-11 overall.
Fullerton forward Jamaal Brown chipped in with a double-double, scoring 13 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.
"Jamaal was the difference maker in the game," Assistant Coach Andy Newman said. "He did a great job for us on the boards."
Brown has picked up his production with the recent loss of starting power forward Hardy Asprilla. The senior's season ended after tearing his ACL against the Long Beach State 49ers on Jan. 13th. He was leading the conference, averaging over 8 rebounds a game.
In the last five games Brown has averaged nearly 10 rebounds a game.
"Losing Hardy hurts us but everyone else just has to step it up and that's what Jamaal has done," Harper said, who scored 14 points and four 3-pointers.
The first half of the game was marked by good runs from each team.
Fullerton fell behind 4-0 before taking a 23-13 lead midway through the half.
The lead was short lived however, as UCSB outscored the Titans 13-2 in the next stretch. UCSB came away leading 26-25.
But the Titans closed out the half with tough defense and scored the next six points.
Harper hit a 3-point basket and Holmes's made a three point play after he stole the ball and dribbled the length of the floor for a lay-up and was fouled.
The Titans led 31-25 at halftime.
CSUF came out of the locker room amped up for the second half and staged a 15-0 run over a span of seven minutes. Fullerton took control of the game from that point on. Santa Barbara closed to within nine points on guard Joe See's three-point basket, but never got any closer than that margin.
Despite leading by as many as 17, Fullerton shot a dismal 35 percent from the field while attempting a total of 29 three-pointers.
Bobby Brown had his worst performance of the season thus far, tallying only three points on one-of-eight shooting from the floor.
"It wasn't a matter of how bad Bobby was playing but it was how good John was playing," Newman said. "The group in there was doing really well and we weren't going to change any of that. We're not too concerned about Bobby. He'll be fine."
While the Titans shot so poorly against the zone defense of UCSB, they out-rebounded the Gauchos 41-29.
Jamaal Brown accounted for eight of Fullerton's 18 offensive rebounds in the game.
The Titans will now embark on a four-game road trip in the next two weeks starting with UC Riverside on Thursday night at 7:10 p.m.
The Titans already beat the Highlanders in a close game, 74-71, at the Titan Gym earlier in the season.
Fullerton is 2-5 in all games on the road this year. But despite that, Newman and the rest of the team are still optimistic.
"It's really tough to win on the road against Division I teams," Newman said. "But if we play smart and good defense we can put ourselves in a position to take the game."